|The trials resulted in the executions of twenty people, fourteen of them women, and all but one by hanging. Five others (including two infants) died in prison. The episode is one of Colonial America's most notorious cases of mass hysteria.|
|Hundreds faced accusations of witchcraft; dozens languished in jail for months without trials.|
Sometime in February of 1692, Betty Parris became strangely ill. She dashed about, dove under furniture, contorted in pain, and complained of fever. The cause of her symptoms may have been caused by a disease called "convulsive ergotism" brought on by ingesting rye infected with ergot. Convulsive ergotism causes violent fits, a crawling sensation on the skin, vomiting, choking, and hallucinations. LSD is a derivative of ergot.
Talk of witchcraft increased when other playmates of Betty began to exhibit similar unusual behavior. Everyone began to believe that the devil was real and close at hand.